- Rohypnol is a central nervous system depressant that impairs mental functioning and can cause amnesia, confusion and impaired judgment.
- It has been used as a date rape drug and is frequently used with other substances such as alcohol, cocaine and heroin.
- Rohypnol is extremely addictive, and signs of addiction include using larger amounts than intended, persistent failure to cut down or quit using and continued use despite negative consequences.
- Rohypnol is commonly abused by adolescents and young adults between the ages of 12 and 30 .
- It is frequently used by alcohol abusers, gang members, high school and college students, nightclub and rave attendees, and drug addicts.
What Is Rohypnol?
Rohypnol is a sedative medication in the class of drugs known as benzodiazepines. Like all benzodiazepines, use of Rohypnol can result in dramatically slowed brain activity.1, 2
Rohypnol can cause decreased reaction times, impaired judgment and leave the user with retrograde amnesia and profound confusion. Many people have no recollection of what happened while they were under the influence of the drug.
Rohypnol has been used as a date rape drug (see next section), and adolescents frequently use it to get high.2
If you or someone you love has a problem with Rohypnol, contact a treatment support specialist to find a recovery center near you.
The Date Rape Drug
Rohypnol’s notoriety began to grow in the United States during the 1990s. Its status as a remarkably potent sedative with strong abuse potential, coupled with media reports of it being used as a date rape drug, quickly cemented its reputation as a major public health concern.
Before 1997, Rohypnol was produced as a white tablet that was colorless, odorless and tasteless when it was mixed in drinks. This led to its frequent use as a date rape drug.1, 2 Reports showed that women given this drug in a drink who later fell victim to sexual assault often had no memory of what happened to them.
As a result, Rohypnol began to be produced as a green-blue tablet that turned light-colored drinks blue. But several versions of the drug that do not contain the blue dye are still made available to people who misuse this drug.
Rohypnol Street Names
- Mexican valium
- Forget pill
- Forget me pill
- La Rocha
How Is It Used?
Rohypnol can be taken as a tablet, crushed and snorted or injected.
Rohypnol may be taken in tablet form, crushed and snorted, or dissolved in water and injected.2 It is often combined with alcohol and other drugs such as heroin or cocaine to boost the effects. Cocaine addicts may take Rohypnol to relieve cocaine’s side effects, such as agitation or irritability. Heroin addicts have reported taking it to boost the effects of low-quality heroin.
Rohypnol misuse can cause a variety of physical and mental effects, depending on how it is taken and the dose that is ingested.
Rohypnol’s effects usually begin 15 to 20 minutes after the pills are taken. Onset is much shorter if the drug is snorted or injected. Effects may persist for 12 hours or more depending on how much was taken.1
- Relaxation resembling alcohol intoxication
- Muscle relaxation
- Social disinhibition
Rohypnol Side Effects
The following are possible side effects from Rohypnol abuse. 3,4,5
If combined with alcohol as Rohypnol often is when used as a date rape drug blackouts may occur as well as stupor, respiratory depression and death..
- Slow movements
- Slow breathing
- Slurred speech
- Loss of coordination
- Decreased blood pressure
- Memory impairment
Rohypnol Long-Term Effects
Harmful social and health effects may occur due to long-term Rohypnol abuse. Some of the long term effects of Rohypnol include:6
- Disinhibited behavior
- Financial difficulties
- Excessive absences from school or work
- Poor school or work performance
- Suspensions or expulsions
- Neglect of children or family7
- Gastrointestinal disturbances
- Tolerance and withdrawal symptoms
- Urinary retention
- Visual problems
- Decreased blood pressure
- Slower pulse
- Decreased respiratory rate
- Evidence of trauma caused by accidents
- Internal bleeding
- Deadly head injuries 7
- Cognitive impairments
Symptoms of Rohypnol withdrawal include:
- Muscle pain
- Psychomotor agitation7
- Hand wringing
- Tachycardia (rapid heart rate)
Helpline Information to speak with a treatment representative about rehabilitation options for Rohypnol abuse.
A person may have an addiction to Rohypnol if they have at least 2 of the following 11 symptoms over a 12-month period and experience significant impairment in his or her daily life.7
- Using Rohypnol in larger amounts than intended
- Persistent failure to cut down or quit using
- Excessive amount of time spent obtaining and using Rohypnol
- Intense craving for the drug
- Neglecting responsibilities at work, school or home
- Continued Rohypnol use despite negative consequences, including social or interpersonal problems and arguments and physical fights
- Social and recreational activities are abandoned in favor of Rohypnol use
- Continued use in dangerous situations such as driving or operating machinery under the influence
- Continued Rohypnol use despite physical and psychological problems aggravated by drug use
- Tolerance, or a need for more of the drug to experience the high or desired effect
- Characteristic withdrawal symptoms as noted above and taking Rohypnol to avoid withdrawal symptoms7
How Addictive Is Rohypnol?
Rohypnol is extremely addictive. Generally, people begin using Rohypnol occasionally and then gradually increase their doses and frequency of use. Social or recreational use can quickly turn into daily use and increasing doses due to tolerance.7 People who abuse other substances are particularly susceptible to developing an addiction to Rohypnol.
Rohypnol is frequently abused by alcohol abusers, gang members, students and drug addicts.
Rohypnol is commonly abused by adolescents and young adults between the ages of 12 and 30. More men tend to use this drug than women 1.
Rohypnol is easy to obtain on the street and typically costs about $5 per tablet. It is frequently used by alcohol abusers, gang members, high school and college students, nightclub and rave attendees, and drug addicts. Rohypnol is often taken in combination with alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, ecstasy, LSD and heroin.
Ingesting large doses of Rohypnol, especially in combination with alcohol, heroin or other sedatives can lead to symptoms of an overdose. 2 These types of symptoms may result in death. If you observe any of these signs, call 911 or go to an emergency room immediately.
- Severe sedation or drowsiness
- Dangerously slowed heart rate
- Dangerously slowed breathing
- Syncope or fainting/loss of consciousness
- Non-responsiveness to sound, touch and pain
Teen Rohypnol Abuse
According to a national survey conducted in 1996, Rohypnol abuse among teenagers ranged from 1.5 percent for 8th and 10th graders to 1.2 percent for 12th graders.
Since then, there has been a slight decrease in abuse rates for 8th and 10th graders, with rates being 0.8 and 0.6 percent, respectively. However, there was a small increase (1.3 percent) in abuse rates for 12th graders.
Risks of Rohypnol Use for Teens
- Organ damage
- Skipping school or class
- A drop in grades
- Psychotic behavior
- Loss of appetite
- Extreme aggression or agitation
- Dramatic changes in behavior or attire
Treatment Options and How to Pay for Recovery
Rohypnol addiction can be treated in an inpatient or outpatient setting, or in a 12-step program.
- Inpatient addiction treatment. You reside at the treatment facility for the duration of the program, which is typically 28 to 30 days but may be 60 days or 90 days. During that time, you receive medical care and work with addiction counselors and therapists on overcoming your addiction and learning how to live without drugs.
- Outpatient addiction treatment. This type of treatment also includes working with a counselor or therapist. But you don’t live at the treatment center. Instead, you visit several times a week for a designated amount of time.
- 12-step programs. This is a peer-based form of addiction treatment. You work with other people in recovery for drug or alcohol addiction and complete a sequence of 12 steps that help you accept your addiction and make amends to those you’ve harmed.
Choosing a Rehab
Starting the process of finding a recovery program can be intimidating. First, you might want to learn more about the different recovery options and what factors are the most important to look for in a rehabilitation facility.
Cost and Paying for Treatment
The price of a treatment program depends on a number of things, including:
- How long you’re in treatment.
- Whether it’s rural or urban, or in a nice location like near the beach.
- Whether it’s a high-end luxury or executive rehab or a typical residential program.
- Your insurance coverage or whether you choose to pay out of pocket.
- Whether it’s inpatient or outpatient.
Call one of the numbers below to learn more about insurance options:
- Find out more about your insurance coverage and what it will cover by calling.
- If you’re looking for a low-cost or free rehab program, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s toll-free helpline.
Find Treatment for Addiction
If you or someone you love is struggling with Rohypnol abuse, many treatment options are available to fit your needs. Speak with a treatment support representative today by calling .
. Lloyd J. Factsheets: Rohypnol. New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault. Available at http://www.svfreenyc.org/survivors_factsheet_115.html
. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Drug Fact Sheet: Rohypnol. Available at: http://www.dea.gov/druginfo/drug_data_sheets/Rohypnol.pdf
. Dåderman AM, Lidberg L. (1999). Flunitrazepam (Rohypnol) abuse in combination with alcohol causes premeditated, grievous violence in male juvenile offenders. Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry Law 27(1):83-99.
. Dåderman AM, Fredriksson B, Kristiansson M, Nilsson LH, Lidberg L. (2003). Violent behavior, impulsive decision-making, and anterograde amnesia while intoxicated with flunitrazepam and alcohol or other drugs: a case study in forensic psychiatric patients. Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry Law 30(2):238-51.
. Dåderman AM, Edman G, Meurling AW, Levander S, Kristiansson M. (2012) Flunitrazepam intake in male offenders. Nordic Journal of Psychiatry 66(2):131-40.
. Dåderman AM, Fredriksson B, Nilsson LH, Kristiansson M, Lidberg L. (2004). The abuse of a sleeping pill that contains the active substance flunitrazepam (FZ)—for example, Rohypnol—and the effects of FZ intoxication, such as enhanced violence and disturbed memory. Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry Law 32(4):467-8.
. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th ed. Arlington, VA American Psychiatric Publishing.